‘Fear the Walking Dead’ Season 6, Episode 4 ‘The Key’ Recap: An Investigation Goes South
BY David Riley
Published 2 years ago
Well, hot damn. Fear the Walking Dead is definitely on a roll!
Four weeks in, and we have ourselves another stellar episode, titled “The Key” (which also happens to be the episode title for The Walking Dead 8×12. Coincidence? I think not). So far, we’ve seen Morgan (Lennie James) undergo a much-needed character rewrite, Strand (Colman Domingo), and Alicia (Alycia Debnam-Carey) make crucial decisions, and Dwight (Austin Amelio) & Althea (Maggie Grace) save an entire building filled with the bubonic plague. This time, John (Garret Dillahunt) gets the spotlight.
In Fear the Walking Dead Season 6, Episode 4, we see John settling into his new job as a ranger in Lawton, the Pioneer’s central community where Virginia/Ginny (Colby Minifie) also resides. With his background as a former cop, things tend to fall into place as a murder suddenly takes place—taking fellow ranger Cameron (Noah Khyle) out of the picture. As John performs an investigation, he slowly discovers crucial clues that would lead to him questioning everything he believes in. The Pioneers offer hope and safety amid a fallen world, but is that really what makes them thrive, or is there something sinister that festers within Virginia’s community? And what’s with these keys being a vital fixture in the episode—hell, the entire plot of season 6?
Before we proceed, let me pull the stops here. If you haven’t seen the latest Fear episode and don’t want to be spoiled, now is your chance to close this. Seriously, you’re in for a spoiler-filled ride (as always).
Fear the Walking Dead 6X04 Recap
Inspector John Dorie
Among all the ones displaced by Virginia at the end of season 5, John seems to be the only one with hopeful spirits, especially with his job as a ranger. He wakes up with renewed passion every day (despite fighting through a toothache from too much candy), writing letters to June (Jenna Elfman), and tipping cowboy hats to everyone he encounters (yep, even Ginny). “If we play our cards right,” John writes. “Perhaps one day we can be together here. Until then, know that I’m sending you all my love, always.”
One morning, Cameron, a fellow ranger, misses his shift. John sets out with a couple more rangers to his cottage and comes upon a freshly-turned Cameron wedged between the barbed wire fence. But before John could set up a perimeter to investigate, Ginny orders her rangers to take the body away. “You can’t exactly investigate bad luck,” Virginia says, referring to Cameron’s drinking problem as the reason why he stumbled onto the fence. John still feels otherwise, though. Upon careful inspection of the area, he finds an earring. This is definitely not an accident. Luckily, Strand, Ginny’s newly-appointed high official, drops by for a meeting, and John informs him about the situation. Given Strand’s recent decisions, though, I’d say he might’ve had a hand in this “accident.”
John’s first person of interest is Janis (Holly Curran), who had a notable expression the night they discovered Cameron’s body. Maybe the earring belonged to her? Janis was suspiciously quick to shut down John’s questions, leading him to believe that Janis might also have something to do with the murder. John brings his initial findings to Ginny, who then suggests he keep things quiet while he investigates. “Place is only safe as people feel it is,” she says. By that line of reasoning alone, we’d know that Ginny’s up to no good as always.
During Cameron’s funeral—presided by Fear’s resident, Father Gabriel, Rabbi Jacob (Peter Jacobson)—Janis gets caught after attempting to escape. John, Ginny, and the rest of her crew arrive at the scene and rummages through Janis’ backpack, discovering the other pair of earrings that match what John found.
With Janis locked up in a cell, John tries to interrogate her and finds out that she and Cameron were together, hiding it from Ginny for fear of separation. John promises to get her out just as Ginny radios in for him.
During their meeting, Ginny congratulates John for a job well done but then drops the bomb—she knows he’s been writing to June and that Cameron was the snitch. It’s a good thing that John had high hopes about Lawton because Ginny could have handed him his ass if it went the other way. With the “murderer” in custody, Ginny orders John to take time off. As he sets out, though, Dakota (Zoe Colletti) snitches on her sister Ginny by revealing that the leader of the Pioneers is protecting someone in the community (it’s Strand, I’m calling it).
That night, an uneasy John struggles to sleep and decides to exhume Cameron’s body for an autopsy. That’s when he discovers Cameron’s throat being slit beforehand and a shard of wood lodged in his palm (while battling a pair of Walkers in the process). John brings Strand to help him out because clearly he’s the right man for the job. With Strand’s upgraded access as a higher-up, John convinces him to help him check out the community’s weapons cache. John’s investigative skills prove him right as they discover that the piece of wood in Cameron’s person was from a knife handle (which also happens to be missing from the inventory).
If you put two and two together, you’d know something is up, and that’s what John is dead set on finding out. He wants to find the knife and bring the matter to Virginia, but Strand tells him to rethink his plan. Instead, John goes to Janis’ cell and tells her about what he found. But just when Janis was about to spill some details, Ginny and Strand appear to act as witnesses to Janis’ “confession.” This whole thing is wrong in John’s eyes, and he can smell the putrid lie emanating everywhere. With some time alone for goodbyes, Janis tells John to make a run for it and reunite with June.
That night, Rabbi Jacob offers John company, the latter feeling a tremendous amount of pressure to pursue the truth and free Janis from execution. He tells Jacob about his father, also a former cop, who planted evidence to convict a cult leader from his crimes of killing women. He was clearly guilty of it, but there wasn’t enough evidence to support it. Doing this made John’s father lose his relationships with his coworkers and wife—integrity tainted. This is what John feels would happen to him if he broke Janis out (even if it means being treated a fugitive and never seeing June again).
John is a tad bit too late, though. Ginny moved up Janis’ execution via Walker bait, with John discovering Janis chomped in half and freshly-turned as well. After burying Janis, John angrily sets out to attack Ginny, but Strand prevents him, resulting in a brawl. Strand knew about Ginny’s plan to fake Janis’ confession and move up her execution so John wouldn’t interfere. “Janis was right,” John says. “This place destroys everything.”
The next day, Ginny holds an awarding ceremony for John, bestowing him a brand new key patch, which I think makes him the leader of the rangers now? Who the fuck knows. Despite the applause and praises, John feels the weight of Janis’ death and how he wasn’t able to do anything. He now wakes up filled with guilt and frustration, even as Ginny transfers June to be with him in Lawton.
What the Hell is Up With that Goddamn Key?!
Elsewhere, Morgan continues his search for Grace and even has a Bloodhound as his hunting buddy now. As he drives to Humbug’s Gulch, Morgan’s truck is rammed by another truck. Remember those two guys spraying “The End is the Beginning” at the end of the first episode? Well, they’re still looking for Emile and thought that Morgan was him. It’s also surprising that they have no idea who Virginia is, hinting at another community lying around unexplored. The men attempt to grab the key from Morgan, but he kills them with his ax. “What the hell do you unlock?” Morgan says as he looks at the key with a puzzled expression.
Same, man. Same. And if this is somehow connected to Georgie from The Walking Dead and the Commonwealth, holy shit, we are in for quite a season, boys and girls.
‘Fear the Walking Dead: The Key’ Overall Verdict
“The Key” is arguably the best season 6 episode so far, carrying Fear the Walking Dead to new heights. Since his introduction, John has always been an interesting character, and the episode just added more depth to him. It actively sets up a future conflict with Strand and possibly a coup in Ginny’s ranks. I also can’t believe I’m saying this, but Ginny shapes up to be a fine villain. Of course, it’s no match to The Walking Dead’s Governor, Negan, and Alpha, but she’s being built up to be this sinister, conniving bitch that might serve as the fight of our heroes’ lives. Time will tell when the beast is unleashed with what John is going on in his mind now. He’s always been calm and calculated, but if recent events gave enough signs, it’s that John is harboring anger like never before.
Fear the Walking Dead continues Sunday, November 8th, with “Honey” at 9/8c on AMC.